David Moyes wants to see Sunderland go on a run – but admits simply staying in touch with the clubs above them is crucial.
The Black Cats visit Burnley this afternoon in a crucial 14th v 18th confrontation at Turf Moor (kick-off 3pm).
Such has been the turnaround in fortunes on Wearside, Moyes’s side can actually end 2016 outside the relegation zone if they can defeat the Clarets.
After being off the bottom at Christmas, it could prove a big psychological boost.
“It would be good if we could do so,” said Moyes. “It would show that we’ve actually started to climb the ladder.
“I think that’s what we want to be able to do, show that we are moving on.
“We need to go on a bit of a run and sometimes it’s good to be able to do that when people are not expecting it.
“It would be good if we could pick up two or three wins on the bounce again and see where we go.”
Should they pull it off it would be a remarkable achievement considering after 10 games they had only two points. Moyes admits he is pleased to going into today’s game just two points behind 17th-placed Crystal Palace.
“We’d have taken that,” he said.
“There’s a bit of surprise about the teams above us, would you expect Leicester to be where they are? You’d say no.
“Maybe even Crystal Palace.
“I think the job now is to hang on in there – don’t let them get away from us.
“A lot of those teams are capable of victories and we’ve got to do that.
“Our home form is really important, we’ve got to keep that going and pick up wins away from home when we can.”
Moyes though acknowledges just how tough an assignment the festive programme has been.
Having seen off Watford with a spirited display, the following three fixtures could not have been more demanding, in-form Man United away, a trip to Burnley, who have one of the division’s best home records, followed by a visit from title-chasing Liverpool.
“The big thing is this has always looked a difficult festive period,” explained Moyes.
“We’ve won one, the United one was always going to be hard and this one is the one you’d say ‘how’s this going to go?’.
“Then the Liverpool game is going to be hard.”
While Moyes, like all bosses, lives by the ‘one game at a time’ motto, says he has also looked at the bigger picture.
Sunderland finish the season with the following fixtures: Bournemouth (H), Hull (A), Swansea (H) and title favourites Chelsea (A).
“Now was always going to be a tough period,” he said. “But if you look at our last four or five games you would say if we could keep ourselves in with a shout, we have a good opportunity going into that run.”